NEWCASTLE United’s training ground was downbeat the morning after what James Perch called the worst defeat of his career, but the utility man believes his side are going the right way for a happier New Year.
It was more than just Manchester United’s last-minute Boxing Day winner which added to the feeling nothing is going the Magpies’ way this season. Vurnon Anita injured his ankle in added time of the 4-3 defeat and centre-back Mike Williamson will also miss today’s trip to Arsenal after his fifth domestic booking this season.
The positives from outplaying the league leaders were lost in the gloom.
“We are all gutted after Boxing Day,” admitted Perch, whose first Newcastle goal was quickly forgotten.
“It was a really tough one to take, losing in the last minute after you have taken the lead three times. All the lads are really down about it.
“It’s probably the worst defeat I’ve ever had, just in the manner it was and the way we played. We deserved so much more.
“You have to put it behind you as quickly as you can and concentrate on formation and tactics for the next game.”
Perch feels Newcastle are having the misfortune they dodged last season but believes their luck will turn again.
The 29-year-old, who will switch from midfield to deputise for Williamson, said: . “Last year with the good season we had, we were thinking none of this would have happened. We did not get injuries and suspensions. This year, we are getting both at the wrong time.
“On Boxing Day we hit the bar and the post and the ball just would not go in.
“Last year, it probably would have, but if we keep putting in the hard work we will get our rewards.”
Perch believes replicating the positivity shown at Old Trafford is important.
He said: “Teams go to Man U and before they even step out, they are beaten because of the way they are set up. On Boxing Day, our plan was to be on the front foot and counter-attack.
“We were determined not to be scared of them and to put them under pressure.
“The manager does not like us to sit back and take a beating. I do not think he will ever do that. It will probably be more of the same against Arsenal.
“They are fresh because they did not play on Boxing Day – that’s another thing which has conspired against us.
“Hopefully, we can show the same form we did at Old Trafford – with a different outcome of course.”
If Pardew’s tactics are a show of faith in his team, he has had a similar effect on individuals like Perch, a virtual outcast when he took over.
He added: “At the start of my Newcastle career, it probably did not look as if I would be here two years later,
“However, I stuck at it and the gaffer has shown faith in me.
“I think I have managed to play okay and turn people around a little bit.”